OPINION: A small step in the right direction

Following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement debacle, where social care didn’t even get a mention, the government has finally responded to the growing tsunami of warnings from care leaders, former ministers and healthcare leaders of an impending crisis.

The announcement that the government is bringing forward social care precept funding along with £240m from the New Homes Bonus was given a qualified welcome by the sector.

While far from the long-term solution required, the move at least demonstrates that the government is finally listening.

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The social care precept is a deeply flawed mechanism of relieving stress on the care sector as far more money will be directed to affluent areas than those parts of the country who need it most, so further widening the disparity in care quality.

The King’s Fund has said the 10 least deprived areas will raise almost two-and-a-half times more from the precept than the 10 most deprived.

On the plus side, bringing forward the money should ease pressures on social care providers through providing cash strapped local authorities the means to increase fees towards a sustainable level.

We will be again here in a couple of years, however, unless a long-term plan is developed.

This must include a sustainable means of funding care, a national framework for the integration of social care and NHS services, and an agreed cost of care.

The government has made a step in the right direction but there’s a long way to go.

 

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